Nienu pushes for Nagaland Medical Negligence Bill to counter malpractices
Kohima, Sep. 22 (EMN): With the rising cases of medical negligence reported across the country including Nagaland, the matter was deliberated as a matter of urgent public importance during the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly on Thursday.
Leader of NPF Legislature Party, Kuzholuzo Nienu, pressed upon the government to bring out the Nagaland Medical Negligence Bill to check medical “malpractices”, which he said, “have been noticeable ever since the establishment of health care facilities in the state”.
“The Nagaland Medical Negligence Bill has to be passed by this August house to check Medical Negligence and malpractices for restoring the lost trust and respect in the noble profession and also provide the best possible health care delivery in our state”, Nienu said.
Nienu pointed out that a patient generally approaches a doctor/hospital based on his/its reputation. In recent years the healthcare industry has become to be regarded as a profiteering business, he said. “Many private hospitals have sprung up without adhering to infrastructural specifications and safety norms which may be termed as infrastructural negligence.
“Government and private hospitals in the state operate without the required medical equipment which have greatly hampered the healthcare delivery system and have compelled many patients to seek treatment outside the state”, Nienu observed.
He said most government doctors are also practicing privately and there have been numerous complaints that they are giving preferential treatments and more care in these private practices.
‘However, doctors have to realise that they are duty bound to look and treat their patients very carefully as they are being paid whether it be in private or government hospitals, they are not doing any charitable work’, he said.
Legal options available for aggrieved patients
Health Minister S Pangnyu Phom, in a contrasting statement, said: “There is no requirement, however, for any further legislation on the subject of medical negligence”.
“There are other legal options available to aggrieved patients including filing a case for civil negligence, criminal negligence, and filing a case for damages as a consumer of services under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
“While it would not be the objective of the government and the society to increase frivolous cases, it would be important to increase awareness on patient’s rights, informed consent, and medical records for the doctors as well as public”, he stated.
“Patient safety should be the cornerstone of the standard operating procedures that are put in place within a hospital. These should also be ensured by the department along with the Nagaland Medical Council and other stakeholders,” he added.
The Nagaland Medical Council (NMC), which regulates medical conduct of ethics and its members, should conduct sufficient training and capacity building of the medical practitioners through continuing medical education and other means. Pro-active self-regulation by the NMC would ensure that people will not approach other forums, including by filing criminal complaints for any alleged negligence, he said.
Through the lens of a victim
Minister of Forest, Environment and Climate Change, YM Yollow, a victim of medical negligence himself, was said to be treated for a heart problem in Nagaland when in fact he had a lung issue. He got well only after shifting to a hospital in Delhi for further diagnosis and treatment.
With about 20 lakh population in the state, he asked all to deliberate on how best treatment can be made available for the people of the state. He also suggested increasing superannuation of doctors to 62/65 years, stating that doctors work for only 30 years when taking into consideration the amount of years they spend studying.
Reconsider medical doctors’ superannuation
Advisor of Urban Development and Municipal Affairs, Dr. Neikiesalie Kire, suggested increasing doctors’ superannuation to 65 years keeping in view that there is a “lack” of medical doctors in the state.
He also recommended that a minimum criterion of a diploma in public health should be the requirement for doctors willing to stay in the directorate office. Public health specialists should be made to stay in the directorate. He further added that there are people who never go to outpost and therefore, such people should not be given promotion.
Many cases go unaddressed
MLA Chumben Murry observed that many cases of medical negligence go unaddressed. This may be because the already distressed patient does not want to go through the hassle of prolonged medico-legal battle or they are not well aware to make informed decisions. Bodies like Consumer Forums and legal awareness cells should take up awareness campaigns on dealing with medical negligence, he said.
He also suggested that rather than a Medical Negligence Bill or Act, there is a need to strengthen the rules and regulations of the medical council and also strengthen penal laws dealing with medical negligence so that fast-track disposal of cases is made possible.